BJP's pointsman Amit Shah sees a huge surge for Narendra Modi-led BJP sending both the Samajwadi Party and the Congress on a downward spiral ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, leaving only Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party to pose a direct challenge for the saffron party's ambitions in Uttar Pradesh.
In his first interview on the challenges before him, Narendra Modi's lieutenant says the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) too is not a big factor in UP. But the growing support for Modi, however, swelled the number of aspirants for BJP ticket, posing a challenge in itself.
Excerpts from the interview:
Why is BJP so upbeat about UP?
Narendra Modi's half-a-dozen rallies so far have generated a wave of support for BJP across all constituencies. BJP's PM candidate is set to become the single big factor that will determine winners in most in Uttar Pradesh. It's almost look like a presidential election campaign. Everyone in UP is talking about Modi and what he can do to transform the state. Our ground assessments show us in the lead.
Who is your principal rival, SP, Congress or BSP?
The SP and the Congress are sliding down because of their track record in UP and the Centre, leaving the BSP as the only alternative against us. We see the BSP as the only rival also because of its committed following in some constituencies. The performance of the SP government too has helped to take Modi's campaign down to village-level. People know what Modi stands for because they have seen what the SP stands for.
Aren't you worried about Aam Admi Party (AAP)?
AAP's influence could be limited to some pockets. But it is not major threat to us as is being projected by AAP leaders. Their performance in Delhi is posing questions about their method.The buzz about them has, however, done us good. The AAP factor will ensure we are not complacent and work harder.
How will you handle huge number of aspirants for BJP ticket?
There is indeed huge pressure on the selection process. Once the right candidate is chosen, it is also important we persuade others to work together. That's the twin challenge for BJP. Picture will be clear by mid-March.
What is the selection criteria for candidates? Youth or old?
Every constituency has to be assessed for its political chemistry to pick the right person. We cannot transplant Gujarat model in UP. We have to see what will work. The Modi wave has meant that all factors including caste and other complexities will get drowned. Candidates per se may be a secondary issue.
Are your palaks (overseers) turning down assignments as they are aspirants themselves?
We have told them that they can continue work till we decide on candidates. Till then, they can be at their job, motivating our workers at the booth-level in every seat assigned to them.
Will your Gujarat experience work in UP?
Every state has its own dynamics. What works in Gujarat won't do in UP.
Once the polls are over, what's your next task, in Gujarat?
Right now, we have to ensure BJP gets maximum tally. I was appointed as BJP general secretary for three years. So, after the polls, I am looking forward to working for BJP in other states.